Comparative Effects of Sunscreens Alone vs Sunscreens Plus DNA Repair Enzymes in Patients With Actinic Keratosis: Clinical and Molecular Findings from a 6-Month, Randomized, Clinical Study

J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Sep;14(9):986-90.


Recent experimental irradiation studies have shown that the addition of DNA repair enzymes (photolyase and endonuclease) to traditional sunscreens may reduce ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-induced molecular damage to the skin to a greater extent than sunscreens alone. In this 6-month, randomized, clinical study, we sought to compare the clinical and molecular effects of sunscreens plus DNA repair enzymes vs. those of traditional sunscreens alone in patients with actinic keratosis (AK). A total of 28 AK patients were randomized to topically apply sunscreens plus DNA repair enzymes (enzyme group; n = 14) or sunscreens alone (sunscreen group; n = 14) for 6 months. The main outcome measures included 1) hyperkeratosis, 2) field cancerization (as measured by fluorescence diagnostics using methylaminolaevulinate), and 3) levels of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) in skin biopsies. Both regimens produced a significant reduction of hyperkeratosis at 6 months, with no difference between the two groups. Field cancerization was significantly reduced by both regimens, but the decrease observed in the enzyme group was significantly more pronounced than in the sunscreen group (P < 0.001). At 6 months, CPDs decreased by 61% in the enzyme group and by 35% in the sunscreen group compared with baseline values (P < 0.001). These findings indicate that, despite a similar effect on hyperkeratosis, the addition of DNA repair enzymes to sunscreens was more effective in reducing field cancerization and CPDs than sunscreens alone. Taken together, our findings indicate that sunscreens plus DNA repair enzymes may be superior to traditional sunscreens alone in reducing field cancerization and UVR-associated molecular signatures (CPDs) in AK patients, potentially preventing malignant transformation into invasive squamous cell carcinoma in a more efficient manner.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase / pharmacology
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Endonucleases / pharmacology
  • Endonucleases / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratosis, Actinic / drug therapy*
  • Keratosis, Actinic / pathology*
  • Male
  • Pyrimidine Dimers / analysis
  • Skin / chemistry
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / pharmacology
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Drug Combinations
  • Pyrimidine Dimers
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • Endonucleases
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase